Monday, June 29, 2009

Father's Day Weekend

Last weekend, we went to Sacramento to visit Danale and Justin for Father's Day weekend. Saturday night, we went to Pops in the Park. Each week, they have a different band playing at a different park around Sacramento. Everyone brings their blankets and chairs and a little picnic. I was surprised by how much it cooled down at night! Ashlyn loves her Aunt Danale! I love this picture of Colton and Ashlyn! She is looking at him like, "Are you really going to eat all the chips!" Haha!

Tara and Jason

Father's Day

I took this picture outside of Danale's house on Father's Day.

Ashlyn and Jason Rickards

I love Father's Day because I feel like I really do have a reason to celebrate. I have a wonderful father and Jason is a great Dad! I have always said that Jason was born to be a Dad. It comes so naturally to him.

I love the way he loves the kids! I laugh when he tells me about episodes of Dora the Explorer or what happened on Hanna Montana! The kids love to snuggle up on the couch with him and watch a show.

I love the support he gives me as their mother. Sometimes it comes in the form of a firm back up saying, "Listen to your mother!" or the gentle reminder as he gathers them together to say, "Guys, Mom's having a bad day. I really need you to..."

I love the way he gets excited and wants to have them experience new things. He is always thinking of things he thinks the kids would love. When we were in the Bahamas, he kept saying that the kids would love it and we should bring them back there. Recently, he decided that a great family trip would be to take the kids to Hawaii. He had so much fun when we went that he thought the kids would love it too. I had to remind him that until they are older, a beach is just a beach to them and the location doesn't make it any more cool to them, just more expensive for us. (At least that is how I see it.) Now he asks me how old do I think the kids need to be before they can travel. We both love to travel and I know he would love for the kids to experience new things with us.

It makes me laugh when he talks about how spoiled he thinks Ashlyn will be when she older. He says we don't stand a chance with Lauren being the next youngest sibling. Lauren has always been into clothes and says she wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up. He says Lauren will be all into her For All Mankind jeans and her Gucci bags and little Ashlyn will think she has to be just like Lauren! Then he laughs to himself at the thought, clearly adoring them both. Ashlyn will still be in Junior High when Lauren graduates from High School, so she will be the only one home for a few years. He says it will hard not to spoil her.

The love that he has for them is clear. One of the things I love about Jason is that is isn't afraid to say he is sorry or that he was wrong about something. If he ever feels like he wasn't fair with one of the kids, he is quick to tell them so and make it right. If he has to disciple one of the kids, it is important to him to make sure that they still know how much he loves them. He says they need to "make up".

I feel so lucky to have Jason in my life. I think he is a wonderful father!

We spent Father's Day at Danale's in-law's house. Mike and Cheryl are so awesome! They treat us like family and they are just great people! Danale and Tara

Jason's dad came and spent the day with us too!

Jason and Danny

It was nice to have him there. We have been able to see a lot more of him over the last few years. He has one of the sweetest hearts and is such a cute grandpa!

We barbecued and cooled off in the pool.Colton and Danale.
Ashlyn has been loving the water and was so excited to go for a swim! She has been practicing going under water. She can jump in from the steps, go under the water and kick a little ways toward me! When she can go a little farther, we will start working on rolling onto her back! I can't believe how well she is doing! It was a fun Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Remembering Ronna

I was sitting on my couch last week with Jason when my phone chimed letting me know that I had an email. I opened the email to find a birthday reminder. "Ronna Skarda's birthday is on Saturday, June 20th. She will be 51 years old." I sat there a little stunned for a minute. Jason's mom passed away last March. I sighed and just felt heavy. I still can't believe it sometimes. It all happened so fast.

Our computer scrolls through our pictures as a screen saver when we are not using it. I walked out of my room the next morning and this picture was on my screen. I choked up. It was taken in January on one of our visits to see her. I know how much she loved Ashlyn and how much she had looked forward to being a grandma. I can't imagine how hard it was for her to know she wouldn't be here to watch them grow up. I'm teary just thinking about it now.

I had a hard time that day. I couldn't get her off my mind. I just felt sad. I was sad that Ashlyn doesn't get to grow up knowing her. I was sad for myself that I didn't get more time with her. She always made me feel so loved. I was sad for Jason. He was so close with his mom. I know he misses her so much.

I kept thinking about one of our last visits with her. Visits were hard and took days to recover from emotionally. It was the most helpless feeling to watch her dying right in front of us and know that there was nothing we could do to stop it. It was almost unbearable for Jason to see her. He was curled up in her lap on the couch, asking her how he was supposed to live without her. Her response has rung in my head so many times. She held him with her frail arms and stroked his hair. She told him it would be okay. "Tara is here. She will take care of you now. Tara will take care of you. It will be okay." I wondered how I was doing...

In December, when we went to the hospital for her surgery and the doctors confirmed that it was cancer, we were only able to visit her one at a time. When it was my turn, she tried to comfort me. When I asked her if there was anything I could do for her, she told me I already was. "Take care of Jason. He is really going to need you. This is going to be hard on him. A boy needs his mama and this is going to be hard." She took comfort in my love for him. She needed me to love him for both of us. I've never seen a mother love her son as unconditionally as Ronna loved Jason. Those are big shoes to fill, but I try.

As I was walking out, she called after me. "Tara, did you cut your hair? It looks really pretty!" I wasn't sure what she was talking about at first. My mind was swimming with the cancer news and hospital equipment. I had long hair at the time and had cut a few layers the week before. It struck me that she would notice at a time like this. I walked back over and gave her a hug. She told me that she loved me and I know that she did.

My memories of Ronna made me reflect on my own life. She was such a great example of how to love your children. She loved being a mom. I wondered if my kids would know how much I love them if I suddenly passed away. I wondered if she would still find peace in my relationship with her son. Am I taking care of him?

I decided that I need to not to be sad and think about all the time we wont have with her, but think of the happy memories that we do have. So, here are a few memories that make me smile.

This picture was taken the first day I met Ronna. She told Jason, " I wanna meet this girl you're so crazy about!"We met at the park and had some lunch. When Jason had to go back to work, we stayed and watched the kids play and got to know each other better. Later, she told me that she could tell how I felt about Jason because I looked at him "with soft eyes". She was so supportive of us and took my kids on as her grand kids from the very beginning. In a card she later sent to me, she said "watching us all interact is a beautiful thing." She was so happy that we were happy. Having her support meant the world to Jason.

These next two pictures were taken out at the Ranch on different weekend visits. I love them because they show her personality. She was so fun and always ready for whatever!She loved to come out and watch us ride.This picture makes me laugh because I remember how excited she was to wear her fur! It was taken at our wedding. I think it's a great picture of both of them.These next two were taken when she came down when Ashlyn was born, just two months before we found out she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She was so excited to be a grandma! She said she couldn't wait to just "love her up!"
Losing Ronna reminded me that there isn't always a tomorrow... It made me think about how I live today.

Happy Birthday, Ronna. We miss you...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Family Night at the Driving Range

Last week, we took the kids to the driving range for family night with some of our friends. It had been a few years since the kids had been out to a driving range...

Jason showing Jessica how to use the club...and then Lauren...Ashlyn stealing the golf ballsJason showing us how its doneTalli showing us how to look good doing it!Jeremy sending the ball into next week! Ashlyn taking a turn

Jason, Jeremy, Talli and Macie taking a break
Austin and Zack
We had a great time hanging out with our friends and hitting a few golf balls! We finished off the night with some Thrifty ice cream. Yum! Summer here we come!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Never Long Enough

Not many people can say they are looking forward to a weekend visit with their in-laws, or that they wish the visit could last longer, but when Jason's sister, Danale, and her family come to visit, times always seems to fly by! Justin and Danale
Sweet little Colton is growing up so fast! Colton
His personality is really starting to come out and the kids love to play with him!

Colton and Lauren

Justin thinks Danale and I are hyper when we are together and that we talk a mile a minute! We tell him it is just because we are so happy to see each other!! I don't think we would ever get sick of them! You know how there are some people that are just so easy to be around? They are those people that could just move in and you wouldn't be watching the calendar waiting for them to move out! We fit together really well.

I adore Justin! He is a complete bust up! Jeff says, "he's a laugh a minute!" Its true. And when he isn't busy making you laugh, he is just so easy going and comfortable to be with.

Danale... I can't say enough good things about Danale. I totally love her! She has such a fun bubbly personality and is just sweet all the way through. Jason says she is like me- sweet, but won't let anyone push her around. I've never seen anyone push, but I bet she could come up with a little sass! She reminds me of her mom as I watch her be a mother. It seems to come so naturally to her. She has such a big heart and I love her to pieces!

When it is time to go, the visits just never seem long enough and we are left looking forward to the next one.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

This year, once again we didn't make it to Whiskeytown Lake for our Memorial Day tradition. Ashlyn hasn't been sleeping well, and as most of you know, I'm not very much fun without sleep. (That's putting it gently. I'm grumpy when I'm tired!) We were worried about her keeping everyone in camp awake at night. I know it usually bothers the parents more than anyone else, but we decided to pass this year. I knew I would miss it, but knowing we will be going in July made it easier. Jessica and Lauren managed to get Grandma to agree to watch them if they went.

We stayed home with Austin and Ashlyn and had a great weekend hanging out with our good friends! We went out to the lake a couple of times...

Talli, Tara, Ashlyn (and Clara hiding behind her hair)
Haley is such a babe!!! Everytime we go out with them I am so impressed with how awesome she is on the wake board!! Here she is surfing. Jason and Ashlyn
You can still see her chicken pox scabbed over. It seems like they look worse as they get better. She wasn't so sure about her life jacket. We had to unzip it so she could get snacks into her mouth!

Jason wake surfing

Heather and Jason Smith

Austin Aaron, Tara and Ashlyn

Jason on the wake board. I can't believe he was wake boarding just a few months after having a broken leg! He said it was a little stiff and he was a little worried about landing on it, but you would never know it by watching him jump that wake!!

On Monday, after we came back from being out on the lake, we went over to Aaron and Haley's for a barbecue and more swimming.Jason Jeremy, Aaron working the barbecue Ashlyn and Austin

I know I say it all the time, but I love our friends! We have so much fun and feel so lucky to have them in our life!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chicken Pox

On the last day of our trip to Las Vegas, I got a text message casually letting me know that Lauren and Ashlyn would be staying home from church because Lauren had thrown up and Ashlyn looked like she might have the chicken pox.

"Chicken Pox?!?!?! Are you serious? Lauren threw up? Is she okay?"

"Oh ya. She's fine. She said it was just because she was coughing really hard."

I picked up the phone and called home. Lauren had come home from school on Friday because she "wasn't feeling well". She tries to pull that one as often as she can get away with. She didn't have any symptoms, but several kids in her class were out sick, so the nurse thought maybe she was coming down with something. She hadn't been coughing or Friday or Saturday, but sometime Saturday night, she had a coughing fit and said she threw up.

I felt terrible that I wasn't home and my babies were sick! "Okay, back to the chicken pox thing... Are you sure it is chicken pox?" My dad assured me that it was chicken pox, but it didn't seem to be bothering Ashlyn at all. She was her happy self.

Uggh. Well, At least we would be home in a few hours. What a drastic change though. Hanging out in Las Vegas until all hours of the night with fun friends, to home with sick babies and the chicken pox!

I got home and sure enough... chicken pox. I could not figure out where she would have gotten them! I still don't know. It actually is kind of driving me crazy. She broke out too many days later to have gotten it in nursery at church. She was home with me all week. Target, maybe? Somehow at the grocery store? The shopping cart? She doesn't try to lick it or anything! Are the shopping carts really that bad? She has a shopping cart cover that I used when she was younger because she was still at that age where everything goes in her mouth, but now I don't use it very often.
Little Ashlyn showing me her spots. If you look closely, you can see a ton on her forehead! They looked worse the next day.To make it even worse, she had fallen the night before and bumped her eye on the back of the couch. Poor baby!

Maybe there is just something with me and the chicken pox. I am the only person I know who has had it three times! They say you should only get it once. Twice if you only get a light case of it. Not me. I had it bad when I was a little baby, I remember having it when I was 5 and being so itchy and when I was in high school, I got a couple dozen. I tried to tell the doctor there was no way it could be chicken pox because I had already had it twice. He said it was definitely chicken pox. Crazy huh?

I felt grounded for the next week! It was crazy to not be able to run to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner or a quick run to Target. Even after her "spots" scabbed over and she was no longer contagious, I was afraid to take her out because I thought people would freak out. It was no fun!

She loved her oatmeal baths and putting medicine on her spots. She was such a good sport! Her spots are almost faded now. I am worried about one on her face that she keeps picking at. I would be so sad it her sweet little face gets chicken pox scars!